How Pilot Obet Mazinyi Became The First Black African Captain at Cathay Pacific: The Flag Carrier Of Hong Kong

Captain Obet Mazinyi first landed a job in Hong Kong in 1991, he was the only Black African pilot in Hong Kong. Obet is currently a senior instructor and examiner/Check Captain with Cathay Pacific, on the Boeing 747-400ERF and Boeing 747-8.

Captain Obet has a huge and loyal following on Instagram. He takes his followers right into the Boeing 747 flight deck, where he regularly shares nuggets of knowledge about the much-loved jumbo. He shares a detailed and fascinating account of his flying story below.

How Pilot Obet Mazinyi Became The First Black African Captain at Cathay Pacific The Flag Carrier Of Hong Kong

I was born in Harare, Zimbabwe with my roots going to the Wedza district of Zimbabwe. Although I am from Zimbabwe, quite a large chunk of my education was in Zambia. In the mid-1960s, my parents moved to Zambia. I’ve been happily married to my lovely wife Persy for 29 years. My present situation is that I am a Senior instructor and examiner/Check Captain with Cathay Pacific Airways on the Boeing 747-400ERF and Boeing 747-8. I have been with Cathay Pacific now for close to 26 years but a total of 31 years with Cathay Group airlines including Air Hong Kong. I am based in the beautiful and vibrant city of Hong Kong

At the age of seven, I was sent to boarding school in Lusaka, Zambia's capital city. It was this move that got me hooked on flying. Why you ask? Well, to get me to my boarding school we had to fly to Lusaka via Ndola. It was my first time getting on an aeroplane, a Douglas DC-3. As I pulled myself forward to my seat (as the DC-3 is a tailwheel aircraft) I could see the pilots and that was it, I was going to be a pilot. As if the flight itself was not enough, the school I went to in Lusaka was opposite, albeit some distance away, from Lusaka international airport; on clear days, in the playground, you could watch and hear aircraft taking off and landing. Aircraft in those days were loud, which was just such a beautiful sound! They were VC-10s, Boeing 707s, DC-8s, DC-9 and BAC 1-11 to name but a few.

Captain Obet with Beech Baron in flying college

I've been relatively fortunate in my flying career as I've flown some of the iconic aircraft of old and some of the newer ones too. So the list is something like this, Cessna 150, Cessna 152, Cessna 172, Cessna 182, Piper Cherokee PA28- 180C/E, Piper Tomahawk, Beechcraft Baron D-55, DeHavilland DHC-1 Chipmunk, Douglas DC-3 and C-47 version, Vickers Viscount VC-7 and VC-8, BAe146-200, Airbus A300-600, Airbus A310, B737-200A, Boeing 707-300 series, B747-100/200/300/400 and not forgetting the B747-8.

When I first arrived in Hong Kong, I was certainly the only Black African to be in Hong Kong. I originally joined Air Hong Kong on the Boeing 707. It was on the encouragement of the former Chief pilot that I had worked with in Zimbabwe, Captain Dave Warburton, that I made the leap from my national airline, Air Zimbabwe, in 1989. I had just become a Captain on the Boeing 707 in Air Zimbabwe when an opportunity opened up; Air Hong Kong had just acquired another B707 and they needed type-rated pilots. I fitted the bill perfectly and Dave told me to put my application in. I, fortunately, had a United Kingdom Airline Transport Pilots licence (ATPL), together with my Zimbabwe licence. Hence, the conversion to a Hong Kong licence, which was under the British system at that time, was easy. Thus began my adventure in the Far East, based at Kai Tak airport.

My advice to future aviators is to fly aircraft with enthusiasm and review procedures at least once every day, even if it is only for 10 minutes. Remember also that the best aircraft in the world is always the aircraft that you happen to be currently flying; if you fly a Cessna, then that is the best aircraft in the sky. When you change aircraft to another type, then that will become the best aircraft. Finally, there is NO substitute for experience; be patient and make steady progress to reach the senior positions on the flight deck.

Mungwadzi Godwin

twitterinstagramI like sharing positive stories about Zimbabweans at home and abroad. I also write articles on Personal Finance, Fashion, Music, and Tech. Let's connect!

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